Concrete is used for construction projects of all shapes and sizes, from smaller home improvement works to large, industrial-scale builds.
In our last article, we touched upon the differences between concrete and other materials, briefly mentioning what concrete is made of. This time we’ll take a closer look at what goes into concrete, including the key ingredients, the part that water plays and how it cures.
The Key Ingredients of Concrete
Getting the right concrete mix for your project is important, and while the scale of ingredients may need to be adjusted to meet different needs – increased strength, durability or workability – there are three main ingredients which make-up concrete:
- Cement – the binding agent used in concrete
- Water – used in varying amounts depending on the mix
- Aggregates – these can vary, from very fine to coarse
When the water is mixed with the cement, it forms a paste-like substance. Add in the aggregates and you have a basic concrete mix. A chemical reaction then takes place called hydration, allowing the mixture to solidify and create the solid, dependable concrete structures you see every day.
Adding Water to Concrete
For the chemical reaction to take place, bringing the cement and aggregates together, water is added as part of what is called the ‘hydration’ process. The quantity of water added to make the paste will ultimately have a bearing on the strength of the finished concrete structure, so it’s important to consider the right ratio before starting work.
The benefit of adding water to a concrete mix, aside from the essential chemical reaction, is the ability to pour and work the mixture. This allows you to fill a space as required, with the mixture hardening and compacting for the best results.
How Concrete Cures
Curing concrete is the process of setting the mixture so that you get the finished product. There are multiple ways of doing this and it will depend on the kind of mixture and structure you’re dealing with.
This stage of the process will help to make sure the concrete stays strong and reduces the risk of marring (physical marks or those made by other substances). Hydration of concrete is slower than you might think, with a large part of it happening over a 4-6 week period, but the concrete will still draw strength from hydration beyond this point.
As leading concrete experts for the Hertfordshire, Greater London, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northants region, you can rely on EasyMix Concrete Ltd for expert advice. We can help you select the right concrete mix for your project, advising you on everything from pouring to curing. Contact our professional team today whether you require concrete for commercial construction or a domestic project at home.